Copyright Law

Copyright law is in effect through the act of creating a work, which in Italian civil code is termed as the “form of expression of intellectual property of creative nature.” As is the case in most continental European states, copyright law in Italy is conceived in the legal sense of author’s rights. The focus of jurisdiction is a natural person, the creator of the work. The legal systems of Anglo-Saxon countries, in particular the USA, are different. The asserted Copyright-System there considers intellectual property to be property rights, thus disassociating it from the person of its creator. As a rule, only a natural person can be an original bearer of copy rights and is considered in this concept as the creator of intellectual property. Additionally, original exploitation rights (diritti patrimoniali d’autore) can be transferred to a legal person – i.e. a distribution or production company. In this case, all rights of an economic exploitation nature are transferred, i.e. those involving distribution or communication. Term of copyright for initial/original exploitation rights is 70 years and protects rights up to 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of motion picture works, the 70-year term does not expire until the death of the last person within the so-called community of co-authors (material developer, scriptwriter, main director, composer of the film’s original score).

As soon as original exploitation rights expire, the opus becomes public property and is available for unrestricted usage. In the case of film productions, the producer is usually granted exclusive initial exploitation rights. The author’s personal rights, which go into effect with the creation of a work, remain autonomous regardless of the economic exploitation rights. These rights are also timeless, indispensible, and inalienable and can also be claimed by the author’s legal heirs. In the case of serious moral issues, the author can revoke the work from the market, even if the economic exploitation rights have been ceded.

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